Martin Ssempa Undertaking Community Service Following Conviction for False Sodomy Accusation

From the Kampala Daily Monitor, 3 October:

Buganda Road Court has convicted four Kampala pastors, a businesswoman and a musician for conspiring to tarnish Pastor Kayanja’s reputation.

Pastor Kayanja, heads Lubaga Miracle Centre, in Kampala. His accusers claimed that he sodomised several youths at his church.

Pastors Solomon Male, Martin Ssempa, Michael Kyazze and Robert Kaira, together with Ms Deborah Anita Kyomuhendo, a businesswoman and David Mukalazi, a musician, were convicted by Buganda Road Grade I magistrate, Julius Borore.

Ssempa achieved internet fame in 2010 following a graphic presentation in which he conflated homosexuality with coprophilia (“and this one is eating the poo-poo all over the place… I mean, look at these guys, sincerely! Bishop!”).

I discussed the accusations against Kayanja back in 2009, and the trial of his accusers last year. As I noted previously, there is an international dimension to all this: Kayanja has links with Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch (such is the climate of hysteria around homosexuality in Uganda that in 2010 Hinn was himself accused of sex with Kayanja in the notorious Red Pepper newspaper), while Ssempa used to be allied with Rick Warren (although once this became controversial Warren distanced himself from the association), and in 2007 and 2009 he spoke at events organised by the “Every Nation” neo-Pentecostal grouping.

Ssempa and his co-conspirators were fined and ordered to undertake community service; the pastors have been working in hospitals, which has allowed them to continue to promote themselves and their “ministries”. Last week, Ssempa was quoted as saying that

“I have always wanted to do community work so that I exercise the gospel of a good neighbor physically. I’m enjoying every minute of this. In fact instead of 100 hours, I’m going to extend my services to the needy people here for more 100 hours. That’s 200 hours.”

Meanwhile, according to the New Vision:

 “I am glad that I am through with this task which has been instrumental to my life. I have used this period to spread the gospel to the sick and many have devoted themselves to God,” said Kyazze.

Naturally, Ssempa continues to maintain that he is the victim of “injustice”.

(H/T Box Turtle Bulletin)

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer Raise Funds for EDL Leader’s Legal Defence

Pamela Geller writes about the plight of English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), who was recently arrested:

Many of you have responded to my article Darkness Descending in England” by asking how to help. Legal funds are badly needed. Tommy’s situation in prison is terrible, and they urgently need to raise funds to pay lawyers to address this situation and provide him with the best possible legal defense.

Donations to Tommy’s legal fund can be made online via the EDL website here. Please, do it. SION as well as AFDI are contributing, in addition to all of the other work we are doing, This is a priority. Robinson and Kevin Carroll are part of our international team, members of SION’s President’s council, key players in the worldwide struggle for freedom.

Demand equal treatment for Tommy Robinson rather than sharia inspired victimisation!

Robert Spencer, as ever, is providing the chorus, with a piece entitled “Urgent: Help defend Tommy Robinson from a monstrously unjust leviathan state apparatus”.

Carroll and Robinson attended an anti-Islam conference organised by Geller in New York on 11 September; Carroll memorably waved around British tabloid newspapers bearing headlines about Christianity in the UK. Robinson’s presence was curious; as the anti-EDL site EDL News noted:

…in September 2010, Robinson travelled over to the United States to attend a 9/11 event with other far right extremists. Upon arrival he was detained at John F Kenedy airport for several hours, refused entry and was then deported. No doubt due to his links with the far right and his lenghty criminal record, which has increased significantly since then with a spell on remand in the UK, a conviction for assault and three days inside a Swiss prison for a rooftop protest that went wrong.

One explanation is someone in high places has pulled strings for Robinson to enter the country. Robinson claimed on Twitter last night that he was sat next to New York State Senator David Storobin.

Now, however, it has been reported that

He tried to use a passport in the name of “Andrew McMaster” to enter the United States on September 10 this year, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Of course, at this moment in time the claim is just an allegation, and we should not infer guilt ahead of legal action. However, it is difficult to see in the arrest evidence of “sharia inspired victimisation”. It has also been noted that Robinson sent a Tweet to Geller on 10 Oct, asking for her phone number and adding “Think there will be some activity this week about my trip to the usa”.

Robinson has also mentioned another allegation:

Arrested on suspicion of assault on Sayful Islam yest in B.Park? U can’t make this up. He still not been arrested for assaulting me on tv?

I blogged on Islam’s assault on Robinson (a slap through a car window) here. It should be remembered that Robinson is reluctant to involve the police in such matters.

A second element in the story is the arrest of 53 EDL members on a motorway soon afterwards; according to the BBC:

The men were heading to a location in east London, but police have not revealed where they were due to gather.

All 53 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, the Metropolitan Police said.

Geller wrote:

The arrest of over 53 people in the United Kingdom is the beginning of the end for once-great Britain. The leaders of the English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll, were among those arrested, as well as Paul Weston of the British Freedom Party (BF).

…According to Carroll, Robinson was incarcerated for leaving the United Kingdom and entering the United States fraudulently for our September 11, 2012 Stop Islamization of Nations free speech conference in New York City.

…This is a defining moment in British history, as significant as any major turning point. It is in many respects like the Night of the Long Knives, which marked the point of no return from Nazism for Germany.

Geller’s historical parallel means that she’s comparing the EDL to the Brownshirts, although presumably this is unintentional. Carroll was arrested separately, while Weston was later arrested for breach of the peace while “demanding” information about Robinson at Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London. This turned out to be the wrong location; Robinson was in fact at Wandsworth.

Up until the middle of last year, Geller and Spencer were wary of association with EDL; the alliance was finally cemented in June. Having invested so heavily in the organisation, they have no other option than to continue aggressively to assert a narrative of political persecution; but one wonders if privately they have reservations. The video below, uploaded by “MrlaughingattheEDL” and expanded upon by EDL News, suggests there is good reason for them to be cautious.


Nadine Dorries MP Smears Journalist with Plagiarism Falsehood, Refuses to Apologise

From Bedfordshire on Sunday:

Nadine Dorries refused to apologise after an outburst against this newspaper on Twitter.

The MP… took to the social network site to accuse BoS of lifting the contents of a letter she sent to a rival publication.

…But she was faced with angry demands to say sorry after the document, issued in her name by a PA, was proved to have been sent to BoS in response to a question four days earlier.

However, the MP later claimed she had said SHE hadn’t sent it…

The short version: BoS hack Adam Thompson contacted Dorries’ office for a quote about a strip club; he received an email headed “Dear Adam”, followed by a passage of first-person writing (“I am totally opposed to the objectification of women and on moral grounds…”), and signed off “Nadine”. However, the email was forwarded to him by Dorries’ intern; having failed with her plagiarism smear, Dorries simply changed the story to the claim that she had not been responsible for sending the email, and that Thompson should have known it was not intended for him. The ease with which she abandons one falsehood before self-righteously investing in another is either ludicrous or chilling, probably depending on one’s own experiences with Dorries.

I reproduce below most of her exchange with Thompson; although the row may seem trivial in itself, it once again shows that Dorries has a flagrant – and perhaps sociopathic – disregard for truth. She is a liar and a bully, and if her party is too feeble to censure her we can only hope that she will be repudiated by voters at the first opportunity. I’ve documented other instances in which in she has smeared various individuals, in at least one instance with the assistance of the Bedfordshire on Sunday.

The initial exchange took place on 21 October:

Absolutely shocked that BoS have written ‘ in a letter to the BoS the MP’ my letter was to the Beds Times and Citizen, the BoS just lifted

@NadineDorriesMP why was it sent to me on Friday morning then Nadine?!

@NadineDorriesMP and in response to a question I’d asked you four days before.

@Adam_BoS well it wasn’t sent to you from me

@NadineDorriesMP yet it says ‘Nadine’ at the foot of the email. I’ll even send you the email for you to check over.

@Adam_BoS who sent it to you on Friday? All of my staff bar one were in the constituency covering surgeries and the bar one didn’t send it

@NadineDorriesMP let me check first thing in the morning. Either Friday or Thursday. I will say this nothing was lifted at all.

@adam_bos do please, because you could not possibly have got it on Friday morning.

@Adam_BoS And I will say this, you did NOT get it from me.

@NadineDorriesMP Found it. It was sent to me Thurs by Andrea Gordon in response to an email sent to your office email. It starts ‘Dear Adam’

Incase anyone thinks I’m telling porky pies here’s the letter @NadineDorriesMP said I lifted. Notice the ‘Dear Adam’ [Link to picture]

@Chrisg_BoS @adam_bos Well, as you can see, it didn’t come from me and shouldn’t have gone to you.

@NadineDorriesMP @chrisg_bos Yet it did. Addressed to me, replying to an email sent to your address and signed off with the name ‘Nadine’.

@NadineDorriesMP @chrisg_bos Nothing was lifted at all. So how about RT that to your near 11,000 followers along with an apology.

The Bedfordshire on Sunday story about Dorries’ claims appeared yesterday; she registered her objection:

Apparently, the Beds on Sunday has printed a ridiculous story based on my Tweets and my re Tweets.What happened to proffessional [sic] journalism?

What @NadineDorriesMP isn’t telling you is that she claimed no-one wrote to @bedfordnews despite documentary proof

@GoJonnyBananas I said I hadn’t, and I hadn’t. It was a copy of a letter an itern forwarded on – wont happen again though.

@GoJonnyBananas @NadineDorriesMP ahh ur a lib dem says it all really

@Lindsay_70 @gojonnybananas Yep, that’s why I’ve blocked him. Blocking is bliss

@nannachicken @johnjohnbarton @lindsay_70 Facts were right – I said I hadn’t sent it and I hadn’t. how often do I have to say that?

@nannachicken @johnjohnbarton @lindsay_70 I can assure you, the Beds on Sunday have a lot more to apologise to me for than I do to them.

Tim Ireland – who has been the most seriously smeared by Dorries – has added a pertinent comment to the BoS article (link added):

Bedfordshire on Sunday were given ample warning about this MP’s capacity for evasion and invention. I have little sympathy for them, especially when they continue to refuse to retract damaging untruths that they have published/enabled on her behalf. If there are things that Chris Gill wishes to put in the past, then there needs to be a threshold at which your editor says ‘enough’ and finally recognises (and seeks to make amends for) the times he has placed far too much trust in Dorries’ demonstrably calculated falsehoods.

Joseph Farah Promoting “Amazing Prophecy” Attributed to Thirteenth-Century Rabbi

WND again, this time with a piece from Joseph Farah himself:

Exclusive: Joseph Farah explains so far dead-on prophecies of 13th-century rabbi

“Five years”? That’s a relief, given that back in July WND was warning us that “2012 DOOMSDAY: IT’S NOT JUST MAYAN CLAIM: Countless cultures predict end-time scenario this year”.

By “exclusive”, Farah means that he has exclusively read something published in a magazine:

Several years ago, Ludwig Schneider, a German-language scholar, discovered an amazing prophecy dating back to 1217 by a scholarly and highly respected rabbi by the name of Judah Ben Samuel.

Because most of his writings were published so long ago – before the invention of the printing press – and in German, few copies have survived. But Schneider has a copy of Judah Ben Samuel’s prophecy about the nation of Israel and the messianic era and has translated the highlights of it into English and other languages for the magazine Israel Today.

The guts of the story is that the rabbi, writing in 1217, supposedly provided a future history of the Holy Land from 1517 to 2017, successfully predicting the Ottoman conquest of Jerusalem in 1517, the beginning of the British Mandate in 1917, the division of Jerusalem up  until 1967, and finally:

…The rabbi also prophesied that during the 10th Jubilee, Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the Messianic “end times” would begin. The 10th Jubilee began in 1967 and will be concluded in – 2017.

Farah’s source is an article called “Israel: Between Mysticism and Reality”, which was published in Israel Today in March 2008 (page 18). Schneider – actually a former Pentecostal pastor rather than a “scholar” – tells us what Ben Samuel supposedly predicted, but he does not provide any quotations of any length or even give a reference for any primary text. This makes it virtually impossible to check whether Schneider has imposed his own interpretation on Ben Samuel’s work. Schneider also describes Ben Samuel as a “top Talmudic scholar”, which is strange; according to the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia:

The study of the Talmud, especially as it was treated by his contemporaries, seemed to him fruitless.

We’re told only that “occasionally a halakic writing” is attributed to him.

Not only is the Israel Today article weak; Farah’s presentation of that article is misleading. Farah gives the impression that Schneider has discovered some rare manuscript, but this is not indicated by Schneider himself: assuming that Schneider really did read something written by Ben Samuel, there is no reason to suppose that he went any further than to consult a published edition (probably of the Sefer ?asidim, or a quote attributed to him in some other work). The Jewish Encyclopedia states only that he was said to have known “the exact year of Israel’s redemption”.

Schneider has not “discovered” something written by Ben Samuel, and much less has he “translated” it “into English and other languages”. Rather, it seems that he “discovered” his own hidden meaning in a particular text, which cannot be assessed independently because he hasn’t given any reference. It’s not even clear whether Schneider has done his own work, or is just repeating something derived from elsewhere.

Farah also adds some details about Ben Samuel’s life:

…He was quite famous in his time as the initiator of the Chassidic Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany. He founded a yeshiva in Regensburg and secured many pupils. Legend has it that, as a young man, he was an excellent bowman but knew little or nothing about daily prayers. But once he got serious about his faith, legend has it that he performed many miracles… So renowned was his work, the Bishop of Salzburg asked him to serve as his personal seer.

It is likely that Farah has got these details from the Jewish Encyclopedia, although he’s distorted the information slightly; the Encyclopedia states that

He maintained social intercourse with the Bishop of Salzburg and acted as seer for the Duke of Regensburg.

That’s a significant difference, as Farah’s version suggests Ben Samuel had some kind of official relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps this is why Farah also fails to tell his readers that the legends of Ben Samuel’s miracles include the story that

He miraculously prevented a Jewish child from being baptized.

Joseph Farah purports to be a Christian (although he tends to ignore the commandment about not telling lies): one wonders if he can explain why it is that the Rabbi, despite prophesying the future with supernatural accuracy, did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah and his Lord and Saviour. I’ve discussed the conundrum of Christian fundamentalism’s relationship with Judaism previously.

The story of Ben Samuel’s prophecy has previously been spread around the internet in the form of a message by Pastor F.M. Riley. Riley does not give any source, although his article is probably also derived from Israel Today. Riley also considers “Planet X” to be of apocalyptic significance.

Dorries Agonistes 3: Faith, Revenge, and Abortion

A bit of easy graft for and the Huffington Post this week, in the form of interviews with rentaquote MP Nadine Dorries.

At discussion turned to Dorries’ religious faith:

Does her view of abortion stem from her faith?

There is a trace of defensiveness in her voice when she answers. “I would say it was absolutely not driven in any way by my faith. It doesn’t influence it in any way at all. My faith…” she trails off for a moment. Then: “…as weak as it is, plays a role in possibly all things, because, I suppose, as a Christian you try to do the right thing always. You try to do good rather than harm, but it’s not even something I consider on the issue of abortion.”

“As weak as it is”? For a politician seen by many as Britain’s answer to the Tea party movement, it’s a remarkable aside. Is her faith waning?

“I think it has in parliament, yeah,” she says, with her customary honesty. “I think it takes such a beating in parliament. It’s such a cynical world. It’s very hard to be a practising Christian in parliament. I think it’s almost impossible, actually. But I’m… my faith is not something that’s a big thing. Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I believe that Jesus lived? Yes. Do I pray? Yes. Do I pray often? No. Am I a sinner? Yes. Frequently. Daily. Minutely. So what does that make me?”

Dorries is of course famously outspoken, but this is not the same thing as having “customary honesty”: when it suits her, Dorries is very willing to be opaque and dishonest.

The above, though, is a clever pose for at least three reasons: it distances religion from her medical arguments concerning abortion; it plays into a narrative of conservative Christian resentment about the current state of the UK; and it ensures that she is able to maintain her alliance with Christian Right groups such as Christian Concern on her own terms. On this last point, it should be recalled that in late 2010 Dorries took up with the estranged husband of an ex-friend; Dorries’ self-justifying and repellent public attacks on this ex-friend brought criticism from the conservative moralist Anne Atkins.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post article shows the extent to which her political positions are the result of personal grudges:

“Nobody wrongs me and doesn’t pay for it,” she says, referring to Cameron’s 2011 jibe in the Commons that the backbencher was “extremely frustrated”. “There is a saying: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.'”

The incident has been widely discussed; Dorries asked Cameron a smart-arse question about Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and she got a smart-arse reply. It’s unlikely that Cameron intended his response to contain a double entendre, but that’s the way it came out and it looked unattractive, for obvious reasons. Cameron subsequently sent her a text-message apology, which ought to have been the end of the matter. However, Dorries’ milking of her grievance may also be strategic: she used to subject the Speaker, John Bercow, to a barrage of personal abuse until he shut her up by adding her to an advisory body. I looked at Dorries’ deteriorating relationship with the Prime Minister here.

Dorries also used the interview to continue her feud against Chancellor George Osborne, this time going so far as to drag Osborne’s wife, the author Frances Osborne, into the narrative:

Dorries reveals that her personal animosity towards the chancellor was provoked after a “left-wing journalist” told her last year that “Number 11 has just given a story to the Guardian that Cameron is pulling his support [for Dorries’ amendment on abortion counselling]… it came straight from George Osborne, it came straight from No 11.”

She claims the unnamed journalist told her that Osborne “is completely opposed to your agenda, he is completely pro-choice and he’s pushed into it by his wife”, and tells the HuffPost UK: “I just couldn’t believe it… I will never forgive George Osborne for that.”

At the time, of course, Dorries blamed Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats for Cameron’s lack of support for the amendment, and it was this that prompted the “frustrated” comment.

Dorries’ views on abortion are much discussed – she presents herself as being a pro-choice reformer, seeking a legal reduction to 20 weeks. However, as notes:

She’s quite open that she’d prefer to see a 12-week limit, as would health secretary Jeremy Hunt. This would also be in line with the European average. Tellingly, she insists she would not campaign for any further reduction, though.

Back in April, at Unity at Ministry of Truth has noted, Dorries attacked the Guardian‘s reporting of her position in a Tweet to Cath Elliott:

I will never, ever, attempt to restrict abortion below 20 weeks EVER. You work for a paper which repetitively prints lies

This was despite the fact that, as Unity also notes, Dorries had actually voted in favour of a reduction to 12 weeks on 20 May 2008. This is just one incidence of dishonest presentation that goes beyond mere “spin” – she has also been caught out misleading Parliament by describing an evangelical anti-abortion counselling charity as being “neither pro-life nor pro-choice”.

As it happens, I take the view that Dorries’ medical arguments about abortion should be considered on their own merits, even though (like Hunt) she may be being less than candid about her real agenda; the strength of an argument is independent of the character of the person who makes it.

However, that’s not Dorries’ own style, and she is herself very quick to impute discrediting motives to opponents. Returning again to the article:

“The left are very pro-choice,” she says. “And I think it goes back almost to a time when the left was linked very closely to the eugenicist movement and people like Marie Stopes, who didn’t even attend her own daughter’s wedding because she was marrying a man who was wearing glasses. That’s where I think the left’s historic position on abortion stems from.”

Actually, Stopes didn’t have any daughters – it was her son’s wedding that she refused to attend. Dorries is typically sloppy about such details, which are probably given to her as talking points. This kind of vilification is also vintage Dorries: a year ago, she raised Peter Singer’s views on infanticide as representing the essence of Humanism.

Eric Allen Bell Describes “Campaign Against His Life” on WND

From Marisa Martin at WND:

…the Libyan terrorists et al, turned their sights on Eric Allen Bell and accused him of making the “The Innocence of Muslims,” knowing full well it was a complete lie.

…The filmmaker summed up the recent campaign against his life for “I stand falsely accused of being the director of the hit YouTube Islamo-comedy, ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’ I did not make that film, nor do I know the people who did, but that hasn’t stopped over a hundred Muslims from sending me death threats… or Islamic terrorists from placing a bounty on my head.”

The article is entitled “Counter-Jihad Filmmaker will not be Silenced”, although the url suggests that this has been amended from “Anti-Muslim Filmmaker will not be Silenced”. Bell’s travails have apparently included a reward for his death, posted in Urdu on a Facebook page called “Enemies of Pakistan”, along with the accusation in English that he was one of the filmmakers.

A older article on Frontpage includes the detail that:

The threats came, said Bell, following a series of blog posts on the website The America Muslim. The writer, Sheila Musaji, denied any involvement in linking Bell to the film.

Despite her denial, Bell said that shortly after the posts appeared he received a number of threatening messages on his Facebook page.

Bell wrote his own piece for the same site in which he drew attention to two September articles by Musaji (here and here). The first of these two pieces also refers back to a an earlier article with some general background to the film; it included the following reference to Bell as part of a profile of Joseph Nasralla:

Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih, an Egyptian American Coptic Christian, is the head of Media for Christ who produced the film.  He spoke at Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s hate group SIOA’s anti-mosque rally in 2010 (also attended by Morris Sadek) and at their Freedom Rally in 2011.  In June 2012, Geller and Spencer held what they variously called AFDI/SIOA Historic Human Rights Townhall or AFDI/SIOA “Summer Night for Human Rights”, and which I called an anti-Muslim hate fest.  Joseph Nasrallah and Eric Allen Bell attended this function which included many former Muslim speakers.  In her articles, Geller includes a photo of herself and Nasrallah, and a photo of Eric Allen Bell sitting in the audience.  He participated with Steve Klein and Gary Cass in an anti-Muslim student outreach effort titled 911 Defend Our Students.  Geller said about Nasralla: Joseph Nasralla spoke at our 911 Ground Zero mosque rallies. He is a champion of human rights.  SOURCES:  – ** –  ** – ** – ** – **

This was at a time when the media was scrambling for information about where the YouTube video had come from; Nasralla subsequently claimed that Nakoula had used the “Media for Christ” name without his “knowledge or permission”.

Musaji also noted the following:

I knew that in one of the profiles I had done for the Who’s Who in the Islamophobia/Arabophobia Industry, one of those individuals had mentioned planning a film about Prophet Muhammad.  It took me awhile, and then I remembered that the individual was Ali Sina who runs Faith Freedom Int’l, and is a board member of the hate group SIOA which was founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

…In June 2012, Eric Allen Bell (who does have film experience) posted an article on Right Side News

Musaji then quotes Bell’s article, highlighting passages of interest:

I could not help but remember reading that Muslim Apostate, Ali Sina, had announced a few months earlier his plans to make a full length feature film, promising to depict the true story of Mohammed… When the article was published, I received a lot of emails telling me that I should speak to Ali Sina about his movie idea, given that I had made some films and spent most of my career in the entertainment industry. So Ali Sina and I spoke.  …  I said I admired his courage and felt very strongly that this was a movie that had to be made. But I added that there was probably no way he would ever get a theatrical release. Movie theaters would be afraid of the violent backlash. The life of Mohammed would have to be released on DVD or online – streaming on demand. The production would have to be financed privately and the movie shot in secret locations.

In fact, Ali Sina is planning a different polemical anti-Islam film, but the above hardly amounts to a conspiracy to falsely accuse Bell of being behind Innocence of Muslims. Given the murkiness around the whole “Sam Bacile” deception, it was reasonable to draw attention to public statements and associations such as the above. Musaji went on to add:

Eric Allen Bell posted a hateful anti-Muslim screed on his FaceBook page on 9/11 (which said nothing about the “Sam Basile” film).  Then, on September 14th, he posted an article on Front Page claiming that people wrongly connected his FaceBook post, and himself, with the unknown filmmaker who made the “Innocence of Muslims” film… I searched but could find only one blog post dated September 13th that mentioned Bell’s FB post, and that post simply countered the substance of Bell’s FB posting. I could find nothing anywhere about anyone claiming that Bell was the person responsible for the film.  On September 16th, The Guardian published an article America’s ‘counter-jihadis’ fan flames of hatred across Middle East which quoted Bell… He said he had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims”, but said he endorsed its’ message.  It would seem that the only identification of Bell with the filmmaker came from Bell’s own FaceBook fan page.

The Pakistani Facebook page shows that someone somewhere has indeed mistakenly linked Bell to the film, but that’s hardly Musaji’s fault and it is reasonable to wonder whether the threats he has received are primarily to do with his 9/11 article. Certainly, the claim in the WND article that “Libyan terrorists” have accused Bell doesn’t seem to be based on anything.

In a later piece, Musaji writes that Bell has also contacted her directly, accusing her of “placing my life in danger” and of a “cover up of numerous Islamic death threats”. She notes:

This truly is a delusional individual.  I have never claimed he was the filmmaker, never said that he made up death threats, never libeled or slandered him, never covered up any death threats. 


 It seemed odd that Bell so regularly insinuated his name in discussions about making an anti-Muslim film.  Now, he has announced that he will use 300 hours of film that he already has as the base for a film to be called “American Infidel”.  He is requesting donations and says he only needs $200,000 to complete this film. 

According to the WND article, Bell “metamorphosed from a typical left-wing, Maoist acolyte into someone resembling Mel Gibson’s character in ‘The Patriot'” as a result of his researches into the building of the Murfreesboro mosque; it seems that likely that “Maoist acolyte” here is simply flesh-creeping rhetoric meant to denote a general liberalism rather than a specific far-left ideology.

The Guardian, meanwhile, describes Bell as

a one-time scourge of Islamophobia who changed sides after concluding Islam wished to subjugate the world…

However, there’s not a great deal of evidence that he engaged in serious debate with anti-Islam activists, although he did sometimes leave supportive comments on Loonwatch. According to a July article there:

During the time Bell was filming his documentary [in Murfreesboro] he used to constantly email us, asking us to publish his writings and advertise his documentary, his articles were usually so terrible that we declined. There was always something strange about Bell, and this strangeness manifested itself when Bell joined the ranks of the JihadWatch looniverse.

When Bell’s documentary failed to achieve the payback he had hoped for, (he expected to make money off of the venture, just like he does from his site, a new-age spiritual mishmash with adverts from psychics) he turned to funding from the Islamophobia movement.

Bell in turn has accused Loonwatch of being a “Terrorist Spin Control Network“.

UPDATE: An exchange on Twitter:

@Barthsnotes You should try getting your facts right before publishing an article where you know nothing of the topic. #tcot #tpp #gop #a4a (1)

@EricAllenBell As ever, the comments are open if you have anything you want to add. (2)

Europe’s Last Dictator Gives Award to Moscow Patriarch

Here’s a recent one I missed; from the Belarusian Telegraph Agency:

The visit of Patriarch Kirill to Belarus on 14 October will be dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Kruptsy Icon of the Mother of God…

“The Patriarch will pay a visit to Belarus at the invitation of his Eminence, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus,” said the Exarchate.

Kruptsy is a former village which has since been absorbed into Minsk, and a “wonder-working” icon of the Virgin Mary appeared there in 1612. Details in English are scarce, although there is some information on this website. Other sites reference the “Krupetsky icon” and the “Krupetskii Mother of God”, while Google Maps names the area as “Vulica Krupcy” and the icon as the “Krupetskaja Icon”.

As well as visiting the church, Kirill opened a monument to his predecessor Alexey and met with President Lukashenko, dubbed “Europe’s Last Dictator“.

RIA Novosti has more on this last detail:

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday awarded Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia the Order of Peoples’ Friendship.

…”This fully corresponds to the aspirations of the peoples of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine” he said. “You are a true friend of our country, and have proved this on numerous occasions, supporting us in the most difficult of situations.”

Lukashenko and the Patriarch have a long history of heaping praises on each other, and the tradition in fact stretches back to the Alexy years. In 2006, Patriarch Alexy praised the dictator’s support for “Christian enlightenment and moral health of society” and presented him with the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh “for strengthening unity of Slav peoples”. In June 2007 the Patriarch returned the favour with the order of St Vladimir of the First Degree.

“Cultural Liberalization and Decadence” Opposed at Rhodes Conference Organised by Putin Confidant

Noam Chomsky and Helga Zepp-LaRouche among “key-note speakers”

Earlier this month saw the 10th “World Public Forum: Dialogue of Civilisations” conference take place on Rhodes. I’ve written about these international events previously: the WPF was initiated by the Center of the National Glory of Russia and the Saint Andrew the First-Called Foundation, and it was co-founded by Vladimir Yakunin, a confidant of Vladimir Putin who has been variously described as an “Orthodox Christian Chekist” and as “the Kremlin’s model Orthodox businessman“.

The yearly Dialogue of Civilisations events have featured a remarkably broad – and in some ways bizarre – range of high-level politicians, academics, and religious figures from around the world. This year, “key-note speakers” at the opening and closing meetings included, among others:

Noam Chomsky (USA) – Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) of Linguistics & Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) [apparently via web-link – RB]

Alfred Gusenbauer (Austria) – Co-chairman, World Public Forum “Dialogue of civilizations”, Federal Chancellor of Austria (2007-2008)

Walter Schwimmer (Austria) – Chairman, International Coordinating Committee, World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”

Fred Dallmayr (USA) – Co-Chairman, World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”; Packee J. Dee Professor, University of Notre Dame

Helga Zepp-LaRouche (Germany) – President, Schiller Institute

Siarhei Sidorski (Belarus) – Prime Minister of Belarus Republic (2003-2010), Minister of Industry and Agro-Based Industry, Eurasian Economic Commission

Zepp-LaRouche, of course, is the wife of the deeply unpleasant Lyndon LaRouche. She has written up an account of the event, for publication in LaRouche’s crackpot Executive Intelligence Review:

…A recurring theme was the utter collapse of moral values, the disappearance of any rules in the social order, and the consequent plunge into archaic and barbaric behavior. From different philosophical or religious standpoints, there was a demand for a renaissance toward the highest standards that are in accord with human dignity. Whether it was the ethical standard of the monks of Mount Athos, or the values of the Catholic Church, or the revival of Confucianism in China, the common denominator was the rejection of the cultural liberalization and decadence that are associated with globalization, and a return to the cultural roots of the different cultures and civilizations. Respect for the principle of equality of cultures and civilizations makes possible dialogue and mutual understanding.

This is similar to Yakunin’s own rhetoric; last year, Yakunin’s opening speech described “incompatibility between the neo-liberal interpretation of the system of human rights and the system of human values”, and he explained that “the universal urge to have the ‘freedom’ to say ‘anything and in any form’ has a temporary character and is beginning to fade away”. Thus criticism of human rights abuses in Russia can be deflected as western interference; as Yakunin stated recently in Der Spiegel:

What right does the West have to constantly criticize Russia? There are a few things about the West that I don’t like either. But I am not constantly pointing my finger and criticizing things that are a country’s internal affairs.

One particularly urgent topic of discussion at the conference was tensions with Iran; Zepp-LaRouche writes that:

The conference opened with a video by MIT Prof. Noam Chomsky, who warned of the immediate threat to the entire world from an escalation of the tension around Iran, and even the danger of nuclear war. Chomsky pointed out that Israel had recently received advanced submarines from Germany, from which nuclear-tipped missiles can be fired.

A presentation by Ghoncheh Tazmini criticised western approaches to Iran. However, there was perhaps rather less criticism of Iran’s own behaviour: the conference included a “salutation” from Mohammad Khatami, as well as greetings “on behalf of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Despite bemoaning the effects of American power in the world and showcasing the likes of Noam Chomsky, Yakunin also has links with American conservatives. Unsurprisingly, he regards “homosexual propaganda” as a “social pollutant”, and last summer he and his wife Natalia (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program) joined Don Feder and Larry Jacobs at a World Congress of Families event in Moscow. There are also unexpected overlaps between the WPF and organisations involving US Christian Right figures.

UPDATE: Here’s an odd piece of extra background information; from LaRouche’s website in 2009:

Vladimir Yakunin, the CEO of Russian Railways and a long-time associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said in an October 16 interview with the Baltic Information Agency (BaltInfo), that American economist Lyndon LaRouche’s warnings of a systemic global crisis prepared him and his company for what has happened during the past three years.

…In February of this year, Yakunin took the same message to a conference at the London School of Economics, where he again named LaRouche as the “very rare” economist who predicted the collapse of the world financial bubble.

… LaRouche and his wife, Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche, were speakers at the 7th annual Rhodes Forum, held last week.

Bishop Atallah Hanna on Israel Shamir, “Great Russian Thinker and Writer”

Towards the end of September, Israel Shamir published an endorsement in Arabic by Bishop Atallah Hanna, written to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Shamir’s baptism by Hanna. The message refers to Shamir as “Adam Ermash”, and appears to describe him (via Google translate) as a “great Russian thinker and writer”. It goes on to list his publications, and to note their wide circulation. The message comes attached with a photograph of the two men, which Shamir states was taken “in the yard of the monastery in the Old City”.

Shamir has come to wide attention due to his association with Julian Assange and Wikileaks; he was profiled by Andrew Brown at the end of 2010:

WikiLeaks’s spokesperson and conduit in Russia has been exposed in the Swedish media as an anti-semite and Holocaust denier; his son, who represents the organisation in Sweden and is handing out stories to selected papers there, has been involved in an earlier scandal where a story he wrote about the supposed Israeli control of Swedish media was withdrawn after several of the people in it complained of being misquoted.

…The two men involved are Israel Shamir, a Jew who has converted to Orthodox Christianity and passionate antisemitism, and his son Johannes Wahlström. Shamir was listed as a co-author of a story in Counterpunch, which suggested that the woman who brought a complaint of rape against Julian Assange was a CIA plant.

As I’ve noted previously, Shamir is also known for his links with the authoritarian regime in Belarus; in December, Charter97 reported that he had met with Uladzimri Makei, Head of the Belarusian President’s Administration. There is a concern that Wikileaks cables concerning opposition groups may have been brought to the attention of the authorities.

At the end of last month there was controversy when the Morning Star republished a piece by Shamir which described Pussy Riot as a Western plot; the paper took the precaution of removing a sentence in which Shamir mentioned lack of free speech for “holocaust revisionists”. Also in September, Shamir decided to report from Cambodia, explaining that

The Pol Pot the Cambodians remember was not a tyrant, but a great patriot and nationalist, a lover of native culture and native way of life… As for the mass killings, these are just horror stories, averred my Cambodian interlocutors.

Shamir’s reasoning provoked a sarcastic response from the Phnom Penh Post:

We must admit we were swayed when Shamir provided conclusive proof that the KR genocides were either inept or out-and-out fabrications: he alerted us to the fact that the population of Cambodia has doubled since 1970. We eagerly await his next Counterpunch article, “Population of Europe has increased by a factor of six since 1939, therefore World War II never happened.”

Atallah Hanna, meanwhile, is the the highest-ranking Palestinian in the Orthodox church, and relations with the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus, appear to be strained; in 2009 it was reported that:

Rivalry between Arab and Greek clergymen in the Orthodox Church has resurfaced following a decision by Patriarch Theophilus to dismiss a senior member of the Kingdom’s church court last week.

…Atallah said he was informed last Tuesday of the decision to dismiss him from his post as vice president of the Orthodox Church court in Amman.

…Atallah considers the dismissal as part of a series of decisions targeting Jordanian and Palestinian clergymen in the Greek Orthodox Church.

In 2007, Theophilus suspended salaries of Atallah, Archbishop Atallah Hanna and Archimandrite Milathius Basal after they took part in an Amman meeting that called for revoking recognition of the patriarch because he did not fulfil commitments he had pledged prior to his appointment, according to sources from the Amman-based Orthodox Society.

These unfulfilled “commitments” probably includes resolving the murky issue of church-owned land was sold to Israeli settlers in 2005.

As I’ve also written previously, Hanna is an articulate defender of Palestinian rights, and he is sometimes incorrectly described in reports as being an Archbishop (or even as the “Archbishop of Jerusalem”). However, there is reason to regard him with scepticism, even aside from the link to Israel Shamir: in 2003 (before he became bishop) reports appeared which quoted him as supporting suicide bombing, leading to censure from Theophilus’ (later ousted) predecessor, Irenaeus. Hanna complained that the accusations were part of a “crusade” against him by people close to the then-Patriarch, but given that the quotes appeared in sympathetic Arab and Muslim media outlets this explanation remains mysterious.

Atallah is also a supporter of the regime in Syria: while calling for “reform”, he also rails against “conspirators” who “want to destroy the brotherly relations between Muslims and Christians”.

Billy Graham Association Removes Mormon “Cult” Reference

This one’s being reported widely; via CNN:

Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham… a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

…In a section of the website called Billy Graham’s My Answer there had been the question “What is a cult?”

Answer: “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith.”

“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists [“Spiritists” in original – RB], Scientologists, and others,” the site continued.

According to the Association’s Chief of Staff, Ken Barun:

“We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

That’s very difficult to believe. Would a Unitarian running for Presidential office, almost certainly as a Democrat, really be afforded the same consideration? Or would the two Grahams instead be railing against a liberal form of religion which from their perspective rejects essential Christian doctrines about the nature of Christ and the authority of the Bible?

The website also told readers that “it is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them”. It’s not clear whether this is just a warning against taking part in religious activities involving such groups, or whether Christians should avoid other forms of contact with members. Either way, it may certainly have been a stumbling block for some Christian conservatives who wish to vote for Romney.

However, the removal of the site is welcome, even if it’s the result of political calculation rather than religious principle. Everybody knows that in popular understanding, the word “cult” has the connotation of an unreasonable religious group characterised by extreme commitment enforced through manipulative or coercive forms of behaviour. It’s a polemical term, deployed by the Billy Graham Association here to make people fearful of alternative religious beliefs.

Although the Association has not gone so far as to say that Mormonism is not cult, it’s the highest-profile conservative Christian step back from opposition to the religion. Last year, David Barton and Jim Garlow affirmed that Glenn Beck, despite being a Mormon, is actually “saved”; a few weeks ago, the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner went much further, invoking the unofficial Mormon “White Horse Prophecy” in support of Romney. Joyner explained that Mormons believe that the US Constitution is “God’s government on the earth”, and added that “maybe this was one of those true prophecies”.

Joyner also recalled that John F. Kennedy faced opposition in 1960 due to his Roman Catholicism. It should be remembered that Graham was involved in this, although he cleverly kept in the background and left Norman Vincent Peale to face accusations of religious bigotry. According to Stephen P. Miller’s Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South (2009, University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 80-81):

The evangelist stoked the religious issue in 1960 more than he was subsequently able to acknowledge. At the start of the election season, Graham and the strongly Republican Peale turned down a request from Kennedy to sign an open statement that criticized opposing a Catholic president along religious lines…

…Graham agreed to join Peale in encouraging Nixon to address religion more specifically in his public speeches… In early 1960, Peale served as chair for the National Conference of Citizens for Religious Freedom, held to address Protestant concerns about the election. Graham astutely refrained from lending his name to the Washington, D.C., gathering… He did, however, encourage Peale.

Graham was also discrete about his dislike of American Jews, which came to light only by chance decades after he expressed ugly views on the subject. His son Franklin, in contrast, is openly contemptuous of Islam, which he famously denounced “as a very wicked and evil religion”.